Originally published on Nov. 14, 2017.

So many of the lessons I have learned working in the area of complex needs, communication and feeding therapy, are life lessons really.

What a privilege and an education, that a family lets you learn these lessons with them and from them, and then in time, that you get to model these lessons to someone else's family.

Making progress with your child's communication and feeding can be hard. Your child starts to lick a new food, and then they get a cold, and they stop. You were just getting going with that communication board, and then your child was admitted to hospital for a month, and now you don't even remember where you put that communication board.

The human brain is really good at experiencing events, and then making a story out of them that links them all together. We all love a good story. So the human brain has a habit of viewing progress as a neat linear process.

It can be tempting to conclude that you are doing something wrong when your child's progress doesn't look like this. But in reality, all progress is made of tiny steps forward, the odd step backward and the occasional topple from the path altogether. Nobody's progress has ever looked like a nice straight line, ever.

Don't get caught up too much in the story your brain is telling you about the progress being made, or you will be trapped in an exhausting cycle of elation and crisis as you interpret whatever your child did today as the whole story. This is especially true when you are tired and stressed.

Keep your eye on the big picture- what is your goal? Understand the steps you need to take to get there, and just do them, as consistently as you can manage. Don't beat yourself up about the day you didn't get the therapy work done, just quietly refocus on the goal and start your baby steps again.

On a day-to-day basis, it can feel like you're not getting anywhere, but when you look back, you will see how much progress you can make this way.

Like all things that are true, this probably sounds irritatingly trite and positive-thinky. But I hope it comforts you that you are not in charge of the big picture, just the little bit of time right in front of you. As a Therapist, I know that time and consistency will take care of the rest.

Image by Iain Welch Art and Design

Posts from Find the Key Speech Therapy are intended for information. They are not intended to, and cannot take the place of advice from an appropriately qualified Speech and Language therapist who knows your child. Find the Key Speech Therapy does not take responsibility for the use of any advice without appropriate professional guidance.